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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



What if you were born in an old–age home? If you go through your wheelchair days when you are 5, bed-pan days when you are seven, BP and Sugar tests when you are 9, only to be gifted a huge fixed deposit when you are 13, earning a golden watch on your first day at work, start with huge pay checks and bonuses without mortgages in the early years of your career, which also get you your Porsches, and your French villas, that will help you get over your mid-life crisis and stressful career, so that you keep getting fitter and sexier, and this happens until you reach the age of 58. After which you retire to go to college, where you party like there is no tomorrow, where your only worries are pimples and acne, and learn to enjoy life by living for today, blowing up your non-taxable stipend from your job at McDonalds on your dates and weekend raves. Not to mention extracurricular activities in school, your brushes with crushes, homework that keeps getting simpler with advancing years, after which your stints at school get shorter, where you reminisce your struggle of your early years by playing with Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, after which your skin and hair gets softer, and you become cuter by the hour, all this to end up in one hell of an Orgasm!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the above paragraph stretched over three hours. And yes, it is a little too laboriously long in the earlier half of the protagonist’s life

My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone else was aging, I was gettin' younger... all alone.

Loosely based on an F Scott Fitzgerald short story, it’s a tale armed with a concept that could titillate the senses of the most demanding of movie critics. The possibilities of exploring the world through the eyes of an 80-year-old Brad Pitt getting younger everyday seemed immense. Our hero is born as a tiny, shrivelled fossil and then seems to defy chronology. Incredible adventures follow: a spell on a tugboat, wartime peril, voyages that transcended much geography, and the backdrop richly woven with the jazz era during the roaring twenties, the depressing 30s, the World War days in the 40s all the way till the stormy days of Katrina.

The young (old?) Benjamin is a winning creation, a mesmerising byproduct of Gollum and Forrest Gump. But once Benjamin morphs into Pitt in all his Greek God glory, you feel the movie’s “curious” charm begin to dissipate. Soon we’re left with something that resembles an all too conventional romantic drama, The Bridges of Madison County with a steadily diminishing echo of fantasia.


Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life.

There is also an interesting take on Button’s decades-long romance with a ballerina (a stunning performance from Cate Blanchett), which proves that the lifetime of true love, like comedy, is all about timing.


It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you.


Another aspect of The Curious Case that started troubling me a bit while watching the movie was its striking similarity to Forrest Gump. After perusing IMDB, I was hardly surprised. We could just blame the scriptwriter, who tried to reproduce his magic from Forrest Gump. But then, as any magician will tell you, you cannot get away with a performance when you have no new trick up your sleeve.

Sometimes we're on a collision course, and we just don't know it. Whether it's by accident or by design, there's not a thing we can do about it.

Benjamin’s condition does not seem inspire him all that much, to have given him any unique insights. But then the script seems to force Benjamin to make Forrestesque observations which are then made to sound like profound truths. Some pearls of wisdom such as “Live the life you’re meant to live”, “Love while you can” and “Nothing lasts for ever” will only take your mind back to Tom Hank’s adorable portrayal in his 1994 Oscar winning role.

Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss

Where this movie disappoints is at the climax. While we sit through his old age anticipating exciting times as he gets younger during the Beatles mania, the movie flatters to deceive. What ought to have been an orgasm after a nearly three-hour foreplay, turns out to be a premature ejaculation.

I think, right there and then, she realized none of us is perfect forever.


But then, when I did watch the movie at a multiplex, without horn-rimmed glasses of a movie critic, I found it entertaining. In fact, I’d go to the extent of saying that it is easily one of the best movies made in recent times. If you can forget the fact that it is directed by David Fincher of the Fight Club fame, and the screenplay was indeed written by Eric Roth of the Forrest Gump fame, you will surely like the movie, and may even get yourself to love it. The movie was certainly not as forced and futile as this review is, but then, beware of the staccato.

You must watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button if you are the kind who likes to live today like there is no tomorrow. And watch it most certainly if you, like this reviewer, dread the thought of your birthday, because it’s a reminder that you’re getting older.

5 comments:

Purely Narcotic said...

I didn't watch the movie because I thought it would alter all that I had imagined when I read the story by F Scott. It was quirky but I think I had 'video killed the radio star' sort-of moment.

But but...now that you have reviewed the movie and talked about it so, maybe-just maybe-I should watch :)

Sudhir Pai said...

oh it's a good movie, and it deserves a good audience. And as I was saying, you'd enjoy it if you are willing to watch it without any movie hang-ups or movie hangovers,something I find very difficult to do. :)

sam said...

everytime i decide to watch a movie, it's either saturday or friday night and i end up abdicating culture in the favour of animation or chick flicks. i must strive to watch more reviewable movies!

Sudhir Pai said...

:)

I love animated movies...but then I run away in the opposite direction when I hear of chick flick or chick lit! Nothing sexist, but i'm afraid of "death by chick lit".
:P

Shanker said...

The advantage of watching this movie is that you see what Brad Pitt looks like when he's 70 ...and laugh at him!!! Lol.. It's good to see he looks like any old man.. :p